Vagabond Cookbook

The best you ate on vacation? Make it at home tonight.

Crêpe with salad

Re: No more pancakes, please!

Hey Dad, We need to talk. We know you’re trying hard these days and we appreciate it — really. We know work’s been rough and your boss is really riding your tail. We know the drain in the basement keeps backing up. We know about the centipedes in the shed out back. We know Uncle Joe’s reptile farm — smart investment though it seemed — isn’t doing so hot. We know mom has been really busy since she started spending so much time with her trainer, Russell. Uncle Joe always was a wild one. So, we don’t want to sound ungrateful — really we don’t. But we can’t eat any more pancakes. Please don’t be offended. We love pancakes once in a while. Now and again, breakfast for dinner really hits the spot. (And your scrambled eggs got a lot better after you read that great blog post you showed […]

The base for microwave crème caramel in a mug

How to make an incredible dessert out of stuff lying around your office lunchroom

Everyone’s so down on technology these days. “The Internet is turning us into drooling mushheads!” “No one talks anymore! They just fiddle with their damn cellphones!” “The government spies on us through our e-mail!” (OK, fair point.) Still, the joys of progress well outweigh the gripes of a bunch o’ crybabies. I’m not just talking about Roombas and 24/7 access to dirty pictures, either. I’m talking about antibiotics that’ve kept millions from writhing into an early grave. I’m talking about upgraded rice strains that fill the bellies of starving children. I’m talking about Class IV lasers that can crisp just the fat of bacon, leaving the meat striations crudo. “Wait… what?” Molecular gastronomy. It’s been a buzzword (or buzz phrase, rather) in kitchens ever since Ferran Adrià whipped up his first lecithin foam. Taking ingredients and techniques from the packaged food industry, so-called modernist chefs tweak the textures of their […]

Mushroom-lentil pâté

The most controversial snack around (and a wicked alternative if you need it)

Take a seat and put down your coffee, ‘cause this one’s a doozy. I’m drawing a line in the sand here and, with it, I fear I’m entering a world of pain. There’s a dirty little secret ingredient out there, hated by everyone (except chefs). It’s bold. It’s controversial. It’s the root of legislation across Europe and the U.S.But, can we all put aside our differences for a second and agree on one thing? Foie gras is unspeakably delicious. “#$%@#^! ASSHOLE! YOU’RE WORSE THAN A KLANSMAN! FEEL MY TWITTER WRATH!” See what I mean? Short of certain customs in foreign lands, no other foodstuff fans the flames of hatred like a bit of fatty duck liver. People have their reasons, I suppose. At this point, foie has become a byword for animal cruelty (whether or not those claims are justified). Plus, there’s precious little sympathy for a delicacy so strongly […]

Grilled lamb with ratatouille

The Rest of Summer #4: Deadly is the nightshade

Don your thinking caps, nerds, ‘cause it’s time for a botany lesson. Pop quiz: What do these things have in common?     That’s right! They’re all nightshades, the classic witches’ weeds known to cause madness, hallucinations, and even death. Find them growing wild throughout South America or stored behind posters for The Craft in goth girls’ bedrooms worldwide. Double Bubble, toil and trouble. Like that movie’s cast of ‘90s up-and-comers, some are toxic while others aretempting and delicious. Along with belladonna and tobacco, farmer’s market favourites eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers all join their creepy uncles at the nightshade family reunion. “Fascinating. What is this, dude, Grow Somethin’? I’m outta here.” Hold your horses. A little plant knowledge goes a long way when fixing dinner. For instance, plant families go well together. Think about it: peaches and plums, strawberries and raspberries, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables. It’s true — just […]

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’70s soul, oven temperatures, and the sweet folly of youth

“Y’know what? Fuck ovens. They’re slow as shit and you can’t control them at all. What possible reason is there to use an oven — unless you’re Sylvia Plath?” — Devon Wells, circa 2012 Ovens didn’t work out so well for Old Syl, either. Ah, the sweet folly of youth. True, I used to hate ovens. I lived by the speed of the stovetop. Maybe cooking in China trained me to avoid them. Maybe I just watchedApt Pupil too many times. Either way, if you caught me the summer of Pitch Perfect, I’d trash talk the hot box like it slapped my sister. (Kitchen appliances get me worked up, what can I say?) To be fair, I wasn’t wrong. Ovens are slow. They need preheating. They use Fahrenheit temperatures no one understands (200℉? 500℉? Hot is hot, amirite?) Most importantly, you can’t fix flubs on the fly. With an oven, […]

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Autobots, roll out (and cook)!

Predaking was always my favourite Transformer. To an eight-year-old boy, nothing’s more badass than robots and vicious animals except robots that turn into vicious animals. Cooler still? Vicious animal robots that join together to form a GIANT ROBOT. There we have it. Predaking: The crowning achievement of late ‘80s toy engineering. I… am not your boss. I am your KING! Really, cooking and Transformers are one and the same. Take some killer stuff, twist it around, smash it together, and BAM! A dish (or robot) better than the sum of its parts. (All due respect to Mr. Lagasse.) Foods that turn into multiple forms? Even better. Look at chili. It’s great on its own, but look what it can do! Nachos, chili dogs, sloppy joes, and that weird Mexican poutine they sell at New York Fries all start with the classic cowboy stew. Everyone’s got a favourite chili recipe though. […]